Posts Tagged ‘lupin’

Best lupins money can buy

February 8th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 1 Comment

Lupins ‘Blossom’, ‘Masterpiece’, and ‘Polar Princess’ (l-r)These are the best lupins you can buy. It’s as simple as that. Let me explain.

George Russell, back in the 1930s, was the first to develop lupins in this style, allowing bees to cross the yellow-flowered tree lupin with the blue-flowered perennial L. polyphyllus to create – eventually – dazzling, long spiked plants in amazing colours and colour combinations. He worked for decades slowly improving them year by year. He raised an astonishing 152 named varieties in all but there was always a problem; his lupins were difficult to propagate.

Each plant only produced a few cuttings so there were never very many plants to sell. One attempt to solve the problem was to grow them from seed and it’s certainly possible to grow seed-raised lupins without much difficulty. They’re colourful, it’s true, but the fact is that the quality is just not there and purple colouring and then gappy spikes tend to dominate. In the end his named varieties faded away. Virus diseases didn’t help.

In 1985, Woodfield Lupins won the first of ten Gold Medals at Chelsea having used the remaining Russell Lupins to develop new varieties. But, again, propagation was a problem.

Then for many years, down in Devon, Sarah Conibear worked on creating her own named varieties in the same style and she too won Gold Medals at Chelsea with them. But now there’s a difference. Modern laboratory propagation techniques have made it easier to produce these impressive named lupins in sufficient numbers to offer them here.

They come in a collection of five varieties: ‘Blossom’, ‘Masterpiece’, and ‘Polar Princess’ (l-r above) plus ‘Manhattan Lights’ (purple and yellow) and ‘Tequila Flame’ (red and yellow).

And you know what else? They’re all deliciously fragrant! Why not try the very best of all lupins?

This year’s Chelsea colour

May 24th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Lupins and salvias in these rich colours were this year's fashionable Chelsea plants

This year, it’s dark blue, it’s purple, it’s lupins and it’s perennial salvias.

Every year at Chelsea there’s a colour or a plant – sometimes a very specific variety and sometimes a more general theme – that turns up all over the Show Gardens and all over the Great Pavilion. Informal, naturalistic planting now totally dominates but the key plants vary from year to year.

For a few years it was alliums, one year it was coppery-leaved sedges. It’s even been cow parsley – cow parsley! I never thought I’d hear people asking at the Mr F seed stand for packets of cow parsley seed!

This year I lost count of the number of show gardens using purple lupins in their plantings and using blue-purple perennial salvias. The Urban Flow Garden (above), designed by Tony Woods, is one of a number using both and placing them together very effectively right at the front of the display.

On the Gaze Burvill display dark salvias jostle with alliums and lavender, on the Spirit of Cornwall garden, designed by Stuart Charles Towner, salvias mingle with vivid blue anchusas, purple flowered chives, and borage. Although similar in tone, grouping these plants together well can be a challenge, the idea is for the whole display to be more than the sum of its parts but, sometimes, the parts is all it is.

Not so on the LG Eco-City Garden, designed by Hay-Joung Hwang, where salvias are artfully grouped with anchusas, cerinthe, alliums and purple-leaved fennel.

A noticeable second favourite plant this year is Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’. Used on show gardens to intermingle with the salvias or with sparky blue anchusas, it was also seen in bold groups in the Great Pavilion.

So… With little sign of cow parsley at the Show this year (but plenty along roadsides across the country, where it belongs), the Show’s signature plants really are worth growing. The trouble is, they sell out so fast.